Saturday, 30 August 2014

Weekend Book Review | Because She Loves Me

Author Mark Edwards returns following his previous number 1 best-seller The Magpies. I hadn't read that but had heard good things so I was very pleased to receive a preview copy of Because She Loves Me from NetGalley to try. 

This is a tense psychological thriller about a young British man, Andrew who at the beginning of the book is in recovery from surgery for a detached retina. He's had a pretty tough time of it and is tired of having to cope on his own; his parents died in a car crash in his teens, his sister is disabled from that accident, he has no girlfriend or housemate and is overall feeling a bit sorry for himself (and rightly so). So when he meets the beautiful and clever Charlie during a hospital appointment and is instantly smitten, he begins to think his luck is changing. They get together shortly afterwards and things start to move very quickly with Charlie telling him she loves him and talk of her moving in with him after only a week. While Andrew briefly worries that things are moving too fast, he is already obsessed with her and so when weird things start happening, he can somehow keep managing to turn a blind eye (not an intentional pun). 


But then both he and his friends begin to be troubled by really unfortunate incidents; accidents, troubles with the law, even mysterious deaths. Mostly his friends are all female and it looks very much like the work of an extremely jealous girlfriend. As the book progresses you know it's building up to something much worse and undoubtedly a twist in the tale. Mostly it feels like we're waiting for the somewhat gullible Andrew to piece it all together and I will say that I couldn't wait to find out how it was going to end. It is a total cliche but I found it hard to put it down. 

And now on to the slightly more negative; I felt at times that some of the storyline was overly complicated, the twist was a bit unbelievable to me, almost like it was included to cause a shock rather than to make any actual sense in the context of the rest of the book. I mean, it feels really unlikely that anyone could have figured it out because it seemed so improbable. 
Also, a character from a previous book of his who had no relevance whatsoever to this book was mentioned three of four times throughout the novel and it felt like it was wedged in there for the sake of it. I found it confusing when I was reading it until I happened upon the description at the end about the author and his previous work- otherwise it would have made no sense. 
Lastly, I felt like the explanation by two of the characters to each other at the end of the book going through everything that had happened and what it all meant was almost a bit too Scooby Doo or Murder She Wrote for my liking. If the characters in a thriller/mystery have to go through the entire storyline to explain it to each other (and the reader) then perhaps it was too complicated to start with. 
In general though, this was a good thriller just probably not my preferred style of writing.
This is out on the 2nd of September if you'd like to add it to your to-be-read list!
XX


Friday, 29 August 2014

L'Oreal Elvive Fibrology Thickness Booster | Review

I bought and used the Fibrology Thickness Booster up ages ago but wasn't particularly overawed. Luckily I got it half price at the time but didn't pick up any of the rest of the range, which may have been a mistake; I'll get to that later. So the idea is that this is a serum type of formula that comes in this tube with what looks like a handy "mixing lid"; you add it to your conditioner as an extra boost to help thicken your hair. 

L'Oreal Elvive Fibrology Thickness Booster

Firstly, while that lid seems like a great idea for mixing the serum into your conditioner, it's actually a bit awkward to use. You squirt the serum into your hand and then struggle to get the lid back on, while trying to add conditioner into your hand and not spill the serum everywhere. Gah! Not as much of a time saver as I expected although instead of whinging like me, you could just apply this to the hair on it's own and then add conditioner over that. 

L'Oreal Elvive Fibrology Thickness Booster

Only after I had started using it did I realise that suggested use is with the conditioner from the same range; I thought I could just work away and add it to my own conditioner that I was using at the time to give a volume boost but no, they expect you to buy a second product from the range to make the first product work better…eh, what now? That seems a bit much to me and had I realised that was the idea I probably wouldn't have bothered- I find that concept of trying to squeeze a bit of extra money out of their customers a bit icky to be honest. Surely the conditioner should work on it's own without needing an extra product to make it work better?
It also didn't make a huge difference to the actual volume of my hair, which makes me wonder if using the rest of the range would have led to better results, regardless of how annoyed I'd have been to have to buy two products when one on it's own should do the job.
While it's supposed to leave hair looking and feeling thicker with every wash for a cumulative effect (using revolutionary ingredient Filloxane apparently *sceptical face*), I only noticed the slightest of change on the first couple of washes and after continuous use until it was empty I can't say it made a huge difference to my naturally fine hair. 

This may well be just me as I've seen other more positive reviews; my hair tends to be reluctant to respond to a lot of products designed to increase volume at the best of times. Available from Boots for €7.99 for 30mls, they currently have a 3 for 2 offer on if you're interested in trying it out for yourself.

Have you tried anything from the Fibrology range? Did you fare any better than me?
XX

Thursday, 28 August 2014

The Date Rape Drug Detecting Nail Polish..Thoughts?


*TRIGGER WARNING- DISCUSSES SEXUAL ASSAULT & VICTIM BLAMING*

While scrolling through my twitter feed over the last couple of days I've seen some interesting discussions over the newly invented "Undercover Colours" nail polish, created by an all male team of American University students and designed to detect commonly used date rape drugs; Rohypnol, Xanax and GHB. Being marketed as "the first fashion company empowering women to prevent sexual assault", the idea behind it is that you swirl your finger in your drink and if one of these drugs are present, your nail polish will change colour. 


I have conflicted feelings towards this. When I first heard about it I immediately thought, "Ooh, clever!" but that was quickly followed by several misgivings. 
Firstly, this feels like yet another opportunity to put the onus on women individually to "not get raped". Similar to other "advice", such as telling women to dress a certain way/limit alcohol intake/not walk home alone etc, which is undoubtedly meant to be helpful, it again somehow makes the victim complicit in the attack, which is not only wrong but non-sensical. No other crime is treated in this way; it's become a cliche to say it now but it still stands- you don't see victims of robbery in court being cross-examined and asked to account for what they were wearing when the crime took place. To put it further into perspective, male victims of rape are rarely asked to explain what they were wearing because it's not seen as relevant. 
Well the same should be true for female victims yet this culture of blaming them persists. 
Looking after and taking general care of your own wellbeing are obviously important, I'm not suggesting that we should intentionally put ourselves in clearly dangerous situations and this could definitely be helpful in assessing if certain situations are dangerous or not but my fear with this polish is that rather than "what were you wearing at the time" being the question posed, it'll be "oh so you say you were drugged and raped…why weren't you wearing your nail polish at the time?"

It's just yet another way for society to fail women; instead of addressing why men rape, with a product like this we're still focusing on what women can do to prevent their own sexual assaults. 
The fact that there are people putting time, energy and money into developing this (and products like this- special colour changing straws were a thing recently too but never worked in the end) feels like modernising the chastity belt; we haven't come that far if the spotlight is still on women to sort it out rather than on men to stop assaulting people. I guess it just annoys me that we're having this conversation at all. Is prevention really better than cure? If the "illness" has been ongoing since the beginning of time and is still as prevalent as ever then I would argue that no, prevention alone definitely is not better than cure.
One more problem I have is that alcohol by itself is more commonly used than what is typically thought of as a date rape drug such as Rohypnol etc. This nail polish may actually only help in a minimum amount of cases but will do nothing where excessive quantities of alcohol are used to alter someones level of consciousness- which is sadly more likely to be the MO of a potential rapist. There's also a lot of doubt that this even works that well for detecting the drugs that it does claim to work on- at the moment it produces a worrying number of false positives and negatives, which could lead to either accusing innocent people of drugging you when they haven't, or worse, it could lure potential victims into a false sense of security if the polish is non-reactive.

To lastly go back to my original feeling of "clever!", I can definitely see one area where this could be well received; former victims of assault may feel more assured by this and if it helps someone then that's fantastic. 

Overall though, I'm going to retain my reservations on this one. 
Please let me know in the comments what you think. I know this is a highly emotive topic and if I've upset anyone I sincerely apologise. I feel it's important to look at things like this with an inquisitive eye rather than just accept them at face value but feel free to skip this altogether too if you'd prefer, normal service will resume tomorrow!
XX

Wednesday, 27 August 2014

Current Wishlist, Otherwise Known As I Want ALL The Things.

This isn't specific to the month or changing seasons, it's just a random list of things I want that have been on my mind lately going around in a kind of continuous loop of "buy us Chloe, go on, you know you want to. You may not be able to afford us but having us will somehow keep you warm at night" etc. 
I should probably get that seen to actually. 

fashion wish list

I still can't decide whether this yellow coat from Warehouse (HERE) is a bit too fisherman's friend. I mean, it's actually called "fisherman's parka" and there is a worry it could be too costumey. Would I run the risk of looking like a Cabot Cove extra from Murder She Wrote? That said, I love yellow and feel like this would be nice and cheery for wearing out for walks on the gloomier Winter days ahead. No? Have I lost my mind? I don't even know anymore!
No. 2 there is also from Warehouse (HERE) and is a rather fab pair of pink leather brogues. They come in a more neutral shade also but something about the colour and style of these are drawing me to them. I've always liked brogues but they tend to look a bit clown-like on you unless you have tiny feet so these may be a bit hit or miss. Cute though.
3 & 4 are really the same bag so I wouldn't be getting both but I can't decide which I love more. You can find them both HERE in the bag section on Accessorize. I've actually seen the camera bag in real life and almost bought it until himself told me flat out that a) I would never wear it and b) it would go with nothing. Like a damn fool I listened to him and now I have non-buyers remorse. It's actually ridiculously cute in real life but in fairness to him there is the fear that you could look like you're a small child who really wants a camera but is being placated by being given a fake one instead, lest she'd break a real one. So there's that. The cassette bag is also beyond adorable. Look at it there- first of all, I come from a generation that actually had to use tapes so this would be more nicely nostalgic for me rather than ironic, as I'm sure it is for the youth of today *shakes cane*. 
Secondly, if there's anything I love it's 80's hits and thirdly, I can't resist anything vaguely kitsch and that has it in spades. 
I'll probably carry on ruminating over it but do let me know which one you prefer!

charlotte tilbury pulp fiction urban decay

You may have spotted that the entire Charlotte Tilbury (make up artist extraordinaire) collection has landed in Brown Thomas Dublin and I'm feverish with the need to get my grubby paws on EVERYTHING. Yes, I said everything. The eyeshadow palettes, blushers, contour set, lipsticks, foundation, my god they just all look incredible. I've been trying out a sample of the magic cream (review HERE) and based on that I have high expectations for everything else. Plus, look at that packaging. Swoon.
What's that? "Be cool honey bunny"? No, I think decidedly not. In fact I think I'll get overly excited instead because that there on the right is the latest collection from Urban Decay based on one of the coolest films ever, Pulp Fiction. Obviously the focus is on Mrs Mia Wallace (who I love so much I dressed up as her earlier this year for a 90's themed party) so I'm going to be all over that eyeshadow palette and red lipstick. I already own and love Chanel's Rouge Noir so the nail polish holds no lure for me and I'm not one for a glittery eyeliner so I actually have already justified the purchase of just the two pieces I want. I mean, they're just too cool not to get them. 

book wish list

Lastly, on to books because god knows, there's always a book wish list on the go with me. I'm a big fan of Irish author Tana French, I've read all of her books to date and can't wait to get my hands on her latest, which has yet to be released. The Secret Place is her fifth novel focusing on the fictional Dublin murder squad (they're all stand alone books though so you don't have to have read the other four to read this one) and this time the detectives are investigating a cold case of a murdered teenager after a photo of him with the caption "I know who killed him" mysteriously shows up on a notice board in a boarding school for girls. Intrigued? Me too! It's out September the 2nd.

Not that kind of girl is a collection of personal essays from creator/producer, writer, actress and all round cool feminist Lena Dunham about what she's learnt so far from life. It's received some great pre-release reviews and as a big fan of Girls and Dunham in general, I really can't wait for this to come out; in fact it feels like I've been waiting all year for it so let's hope I haven't built it up too much for myself! It's out September 30th.

I also really like Colm Toibin and his new novel, Nora Webster looks like it may well be in-keeping with his previous excellent form. The book is about Nora, widowed at only forty with four children. On her own in a stiflingly small community in Wexford, she struggles not to drown in her own sorrow but being strong willed begins to find solace in an old love; singing. Toibin tends to write really beautiful prose and I love the old Ireland settings of his books and engaging female characters. This one is out on October the 7th.

And that's the lot…for the moment at least.

Any of these making your own wish list? What have you currently got your eye on? Come, share in the comments and we can all commiserate with each other/enable to purchase!
XX 





Tuesday, 19 August 2014

Cornwall & Devon

There's been a definite chill in the air the last few days and I've had to start using my quilt again so before we bid farewell to Summer for another year, I'm going to do some holiday reminiscing. A couple of months ago now we went on a driving holiday around Cornwall and Devon (I recently did a post on the fashion museum in Bath that was part of that trip, you can read about that HERE). This is an absolutely stunning part of the world; beautiful coastal scenery, moors, lush green countryside and fresh clean air. Also, much ice cream and cornish Ale. It was gorgeously sunny and warm the whole time we were there, we were very lucky indeed!  
I'm just going to bombard you with photos here cause the place kind of speaks for itself. 

That's what I'm looking at in the first picture!
Dartmoor
Heat wave on St Ives beach with my kindle and a Pimms. Good times.
This is the Minnock Theatre, it's built into the coast at pretty much the very bottom of the country. We went to see a production of Sleeping beauty, which was surprisingly entertaining, although the surroundings certainly helped!
The play at dusk.
Cycling tour!
ALL the deliciousness.
We finished up in Bristol, which is a very cool city. We managed to spot a few real life Banksy's (woohoo!) and did all the touristy things including the SS Great Britain (big mad ship, way too many photo of that to put up here!).
Sun setting in the main square in Bristol. Lovely.
We also visited the Eden Project, which is worthy of it's own post so I'm going to leave that out of here for the moment!

Not to sound too much like a hairdresser but been anywhere nice on your holidays recently?!
XX

Monday, 18 August 2014

Garnier Ultimate Blends | Review

I had actually forgotten to review these until I was involved in a twitter conversation the other night where myself and a few other bloggers were all in agreement as to how great this range is. I've been using the Ultimate Blends Sleek Restorer Conditioner and the 1 minute Nourishing Repairer for a couple of months now. I haven't used any of the shampoos but I love their dry shampoo which I reviewed HERE


But back to these two, the conditioner contains coconut oil and cocoa butter and is for dry, frizzy hair to "weightlessly nourish while taming frizz and flyways " leaving hair "smooth and shiny". First off, this smells gorgeous, I love all things coconut-ty, especially for hair. It's a good formula; not so light that it slips off your hair but not so thick that it weighs it down either. I use this every second/third day and I've been liking it, it's a decent conditioner and considering I got 400mls for €2.75 (it was on sale, it's normally around €5.49), it's good value for what it is.


The real star of the show though for me is the 1 minute treatment, nourishing repairer. This one has avocado oil and Shea butter and is designed for dry, damaged hair, which is definitely well suited to my hair. As the name would suggest, this only needs a minute so it's perfect for when you're just having a quick shower and don't have time for a lengthy treatment. This is a much thicker formula and really does feel like a proper treat for your hair- it's more like a mask. I've been using this a couple of times a week and it makes an obvious difference to my hair, leaving it shinier and smoother. This was also half price at €4.68 for 200mls (it's normally around €6.99), so another bargain. It smells fantastic too.


While the former is a good bog-standard conditioner and will do the job just fine, the 1 minute treatment is as good as any higher end brand I've tried and is the one I'd recommend you go out and pick up- especially if you can get it at the reduced price (I got mine on offer in the ever great Meagher's pharmacy on Baggot st but you should also keep an eye out in other pharmacies/Boots etc for potential bargains). 

Have you tried any of the Ultimate Blends range?
XX

Sunday, 17 August 2014

Weekend Book Review | One Of Us by Tawni O' Dell

Where to start with this one. I hadn't read Tawni O' Dell's previous New York Times bestseller Back Roads but was intrigued by the blurb on this and gratefully received a preview copy from NetGalley. The main character here is Dr Sheridan Danny Doyle, a very successful forensic psychologist whose opinion is regularly sought for TV appearances and by the Philadelphia District Attorney in the most disturbing of serial killer cases. He wears expensive, sharp tailored suits and can deal with the worst cases with complete professionalism- he seems to have it all sorted. That is until he's forced to return to his backwards home town to visit his grandfather who's been unwell. He's managed to avoid going back for twelve years because of his horrific childhood and how it still haunts him. 


The town itself is plagued by ghosts and small-minded thinking and he's not shocked to find that little has changed except that as soon as he arrives home, people start being murdered. The townsfolk think it's the spirits of a group of Irish mining rebels who were executed there years before but Danny (as he's known back home) is obviously better mentally equipped and rather quickly figures out who the culprit is; someone else has come home too and this particular person is a full on psychopath. Danny works with the chief of police, who's always been like a father to him to try and get evidence on this extremely clever individual but things don't go quite as planned. On that note, the killer in this is one of the better written "baddies" I've come across in a long time. To start with, (it was very briefly) not completely obvious that this was the killer but it was clear we were looking at a sociopath at the very least. And then it was just like a slap to the face- no, no, definitely a psychopath! 

The chapters are told from the perspectives of both Danny and the killer plus there's flashback scenes so you get a good look at the storyline from several angles. Added to that, the characters are wonderfully well developed and the storyline, while a bit slow to develop at the start, quickly picks up pace and becomes un-putdownable (it's a word! Kinda). There's lots of interesting little tit-bits about forensic psychology in there which was really captivating. Also, the level of darkness to this book is unreal, it reminded me a bit of True Detective (but much less gory) in that kind of bleak small-town America kind of way and the dialogue is just perfect; it's how you would expect these characters to converse but it's peppered with the odd flash of wit that had me chuckling uncertainly (as in; should I really be laughing at this??). That right there is a serous skill and I will most definitely be looking for more Tawni O' Dell to read. 

As Sharon from Behind Green Eyes (fellow book blogger and all round gem of a human being) pointed out in her review of this, it has been compared to the writing style of Gillian Flynn (she of Gone Girl, Sharp Objects and Dark Places fame) and while Sharon thinks that's an unfair comparison, I only half agree with her. I do think the writing styles are completely different but I think the general darkness of the book and the portrayal of some of the female characters is not unlike Flynn's work. That's by no means a bad thing; I'm a big fan of Gillian Flynn but the point is, if you're going to read this expecting more of the same, you could well be disappointed because they are also very different books. 
Anyway, that's enough rambling, this is out on August 19th if you're looking for a really good crime thriller.
XX 

Friday, 15 August 2014

Cervical Screening, Eh? Let's Talk About That For A While!

I don't normally do posts like this but as this is also a lifestyle blog and health is a big part of lifestyle, I wanted to have a quick chat with yiz about smear tests. 
I've never had any scares or worrying test results so this isn't going to be one of those warning posts but I guess I just wanted to emphasise the importance of what is a very minor, very quick and very easy procedure that in spite of it's anxiety-causing ways can put your mind at ease at the very least and at the very best, save your life. 


In Ireland you can get free smear tests from the age of 25, you get sent a letter from the National Cervical screening program (Cervical Check Ireland) inviting you to take up the offer of a free smear test and once you have done so, you're on their system forever and it's free until you're 60. I think that's a pretty brilliant system if I'm honest. For my last smear I will admit I kept putting it off, but not out of fear, purely from never having a convenient time and I received another two follow up letters from them asking me why I still hadn't had my appointment! Alright, pushy! But that's great, it's nice to see a service in this country that's designed purely for the health of women that works efficiently. 

A quick note on why the age you start smears is 25; the National Screening program currently don't recommend starting smears before that age.
Because it's a time of continuous cell changes with regards to hormones and sexual activity, you run the risk of getting false positives before the age of  25. In order to prevent you from having unnecessary follow up smears/treatment, it's recommended to wait til you're 25.  You can obviously request to have a smear before 25 but you will have to pay for it and you may come up against resistance from your dr or nurse as most research suggests it's a waste of time screening before that age.
It's also important to note that it's recommended that you have a test regardless of your sexuality or if you're not sexually active, as cell changes within the cervix can still occur.


So basically the test itself is looking for changes in the cells of your cervix (neck of the womb). If abnormal cells are picked up early, they're easier to treat. As well as checking your cells in this test, the lab will also see if there's any HPV detected. This stands for Human Papilloma Virus and is found in roughly 80% of the population, so it's very common. It can be passed through sexual contact.  There is a strong link between it and cervical cancer so all smear tests now include a screening for HPV. You may have heard of the Gardasil HPV vaccine also, but that's a discussion for another day!

The appointment takes about 15 minutes; you lie on your back, the nurse/dr passes a speculum (plastic medical device to visualise the cervix) through your vagina and takes a small sample of the cells using a little brush (sounds funny, I know) which is then sent off to the lab for testing. 
Being perfectly honest, it can be uncomfortable and a bit embarrassing but the best advice is to take a few deep breaths, let all your muscles relax and it'll be over before you know it. Also good advice is to wear a dress and tights, weather permitting. Once you've taken off your tights you won't feel quite as exposed cause you'll still have your dress on..clever, eh? 

Speculum, not as bad as you thought!

Then you wait to get your letter in the post with your results, which can take up to 10 weeks. All being well, you won't need another test for three years. Otherwise, if you need follow-up, you'll be contacted by the person who took your smear to discuss further action. Often this can mean that "changes" have been found and these can vary from "low grade", which are minor, can be quite common and can often return to normal on their own but they still require a follow up smear in 6 months time. If there are further changes at that stage you may be referred for a colposcopy (which is a more in depth examination of the cervix). 
If "high grade changes" are found on that initial test, you would be referred to a colposcopy clinic straight away. 

While that sounds really scary, it's important to remember that the majority of tests come back normal or negative so putting potential worry aside for a minute, this is a simple test that is actually really important and will be over quickly.

Anything you can do to prevent cervical cancer? The good news is, yes, there is! 
1) Have regular smear tests
2) Give up smoking- you may not want to hear it but smoking damages your immune system, increasing your risk of HPV (Human Papilloma Virus, as we discussed earlier!)
3) Don't ignore symptoms like irregular bleeding, spotting or discharge
4) Get your daughters vaccinated against HPV (in 1st year of secondary school and there's also a catch-up vaccine when they're in 6th year).


You can get more information HERE from Cervical Check Ireland and fellow blogger Laura from My Make Up Perspective made an excellent video on the importance of smear tests HERE which is also well worth a watch. 

What about you, do smear tests freak you out a bit? Have you been putting it off or is it just something you get on with?
Let me know in the comments if you have any other tips for anyone who feels a bit anxious about them and how you deal with it.
XX

Thursday, 14 August 2014

YSL Baby Doll Kiss & Blush | Review

I love pretty much ALL YSL make-up ever so when I spotted my sister using one of their brand new Baby Doll Kiss & Blush products, I knew I had to have one and thankfully, she bought me one for my birthday so everyone's a winner! Hurray! She had Rose Epicurien, a slightly paler pink than what I have here, which is Rose Libre, no. 3


The idea behind these is that they're a dual product, as the name would suggest. You can use them for both your lips and your cheeks. The formula itself is something quite special. It feels like velvet on; super soft and with almost a matte appearance but yet not a lipstick and it's also not in any way glossy or sticky. Just like a little cushion on your lips- it looks just like a smooth wash of colour. It's really rather something. The first time I used it I just kept maniacally smushing my lips together going "ooh..hmm..well now..that's interesting" etc, like Sherlock Holmes on opium….and then, then I tried it on my cheeks. 

Please ignore my dry lips, it's not the YSL's fault. Must. Drink. More. Water.

Now I'd seen a lot of people saying they didn't think it worked as well as a blush but I love it for that too. It just melts into the skin, no issues with blending, it's completely natural and again feels cushiony-soft on. The shade is perfect for me; it brightens up my complexion and makes me look like I've just gone for a walk on a crisp Autumn day but better than that..more like someone with really great make-up who's just gone for a walk on a crisp Autumn day. I also love wearing the two together with a bronzed eye, the mix of the shades is really pretty and although I usually avoid being too matchy-matchy with my blush and lipstick, somehow this just works really well. 


Another thing is the packaging itself, I mean it's your typically beautiful YSL "make everyone jealous" bottle with a classic gold lid. The wand itself has a little sponge applicator shaped to fit the groove of your lips, making application a doddle (no need for a mirror here) and when I'm using it on my cheeks I just dot a bit onto the back of my hand and then blend it in with my fingers onto my cheeks. 


It's that easy. I throw it into my bag and it is the handiest "touch-up" product I think I will ever use. On that note; on the lips, this usually lasts well for me but I need a touch up after eating, although even then there's still a good amount visible. Cheek wise, I haven't needed to touch it up but I haven't really put it through any rigorous tests yet as I am house bound so I'll have to get back to you on that one. Lastly, the scent is as always with YSL, that gorgeous mango/fruit cocktail smell that makes me think of holidays. Mmm.

If you want one of these for yourself (and personally I think you'd be mad not to), they're €29.00 each, which is, I know, very pricey indeed but you're paying for quality here folks and there's no point telling me that you could buy 10 cheaper lip or cheek products for that price because none of them can do what this does or how it does it. So there!

Have you tried any of the YSL Baby Doll Kiss & Blush? There's about 12 in the range so plenty of colour choice if pink isn't your thing.

XX

Wednesday, 13 August 2014

Autumnal Eyes with The Body Shop

Continuing on with my look at the latest releases from The Body Shop, today I'm showing you a stunning Autumnal make up look using the new Colour Crush Eyeshadows and Smoky 2 in 1 gel liners. I love when the weather turns at this time of year- rustic browns, reds and golds really bring out the blues of my eyes and they also happen to be the perfect hues for the forthcoming season!

colour crush shadows the body shop

First up we have four new shades released just this month (although there are 6 in total in the new collection) of the colour crush eyeshadows. These are made from high quality crushed pigments, blended with Community Fair trade oils for a vibrant and intense eye look. I have Coco Deluxe, a rich shimmery dark brown, Gold Rosemance, a pearlescent pink/cream, Champagne Kiss, unsurprisingly, a champagne hued shimmer and Golden Cinnamon, a copper toned shimmer. 

colour crush shadows the body shop

These blend beautifully, are highly pigmented (as you can see in the below swatch photo) and can be worn on their own or in a variety of combinations to create different looks. They're €12.95 each.

colour crush shadows the body shop

Next up, we have the Smokey 2 in 1 gel liners. I have brown and black to play around with and have been loving these. My love for gel liners has most definitely been rekindled lately and I found these to be excellent quality. The formula is soft enough so that it applies with ease, the brush makes drawing a simple line or a flick hassle-free and once it's on your eye it stays put. That's it, it's not budging. It also works well when creating a smokey eye, as you can see at the end of the post.

2 in 1 gel liners the body shop

I also really like the packaging, it's quite clever when brands create a gel liner with a built in brush because when they don't (I'm looking at you Maybelline and Rimmel), I lose said brush and find the whole situation rather vexing. With these the lid screws on well (hopefully meaning it won't dry out quickly too) and the worlds dinkiest little brush pops out of the lid. Naww!! These are €15 each.

2 in 1 gel liners the body shop

My only issue with this is that it's marketed as a 2 in 1 product; as in you use it as an eyeliner and a brow product. For me, this didn't work for two reasons. Firstly, even using the lighter brown shade meant that it was still far too dark for my naturally light brown/dark blonde hairs and so it looked more than a bit unnatural on me. 
Secondly, I actually found it difficult to apply to my brow hairs; it was way too easy to end up with massive brows as I feel that because the product is so creamy, soft and well pigmented, it's just not well suited for use on the brows, even though those qualities make it the perfect eyeliner.

2 in 1 gel liners the body shop

 Above are swatches of both liners that would not budge no matter how much I washed my hands.

colour crush shadows the body shop

Top left is the brown gel liner on both my lid and brows, while top right is the black liner and my Anastasia Brow Wiz in ash blonde (again, apologies for my brows, I still can't leave the house to get them threaded). While the gel used on my brow doesn't look that dramatic here, added with blonde hair it just looked a bit much. 
Bottom left and right are all four colour crush shades; a base of Gold Rosemance with Coco Deluxe in the crease, Golden Cinnamon blended over the centre of the lid and on the lower lash line and Champagne kiss in the corner of my eye. Completed with a light application of the brown gel liner. I'm a bit in love with this eye shadow look and will most definitely be reaching for these over the next few months.

What do you think?
Have you tried any of these?
What's your go-to eye look for Autumn?
XX


*Press sample, gratefully received. All opinions my own, as always.



Tuesday, 12 August 2014

Anniversary Treats & Mini Book Haul!

If you follow my Instagram, Facebook, Twitter etc then you'll have spotted it was our two year wedding anniversary last weekend and as it's the "cotton" anniversary we've picked out some rather gorgeous 100% cotton sheets. Meanwhile himself treated me to a bottle of my wedding day perfume, a brilliant new book (Donna Tartt, yay!) and a big old plate of homemade pancakes and tea. He's a marital legend. 
All of that aside, we also have lovely family who gave us this rather amazing anniversary hamper. This may seem super smug and showy-offy but I actually think this is a lovely idea for a gift and thought I'd share it with you all as potential wedding/anniversary/Christmas/birthday/engagement presents for friends and family of your own.


Inside, there was a selection of things we both love; pink champagne for me, pale beer and diet coke for him, chocolates, muffins, mini oreos, flapjacks, rocky roads, even little freddos (beloved childhood chocolate bars..remember when they were 10p y'all? Oh those were the days). All very yum.


Then there was hand wash and matching hand cream, chocolate scented candles and some new rather brilliant looking books:


The chocolate scented candles to the left and right smell AMAZING!! In the middle is the "library" version of the Irish Country House Collection candles, which I love. I reviewed the "Entrance Hall Candle" last year- it's the perfect Autumn scent so I'm hoping for similar with this. You can read that review HERE. Trust me, you need to smell these guys!!


I've somehow never read any Ross O' Carroll-Kelly (shameful as I've lived in Dublin now for about five years), Purple Hibiscus is written by the same author as Americanah and Half of a Yellow Sun so I have high hopes for that, I'm a big Sebastian Barry fan and lastly, I've heard great things about The Farm so I'm really excited about all of these. Plus, little known fact about me (it's not at all, I rave about it on here ALL the time) but I love getting presents of books that other people have picked out for me. It makes me bizarrely happy. I'm weird like that.

And lastly, this little beauty, which I LOVE:


I just need to find a good spot for it.

Perfect idea for a gift, no?
XX

Monday, 11 August 2014

HealGel Eye | Review

I'm always on the look out for a good eye serum, I tend to suffer from big mad bags that make me look permanently wrecked and so I will generally try anything to sort them out. Before you say it, I know; good nutrition, plenty of water and a decent night's sleep are the business and an auld tube of Nars Radiant Creamy Concealer (review HERE) doesn't go astray either but you know life doesn't always go as planned so it's nice to give a helping hand where possible. I think eye creams are a murky area in the world of skincare in general, it's so hard to find the right texture for you and the product that targets your specific issues- darkness, puffiness, fine lines etc. For me I want something to make me look a bit less like a Walking Dead extra with some anti-ageing properties too. Step in HealGel Eye. I had heard a bit of the hype surrounding this brand and was keen to give them a go. Here's their schtick, from their website (HERE):

HealGel was created by a team of leading British plastic and cosmetic surgeons with the help of a renowned dermatological biochemist and a well known actor. They wanted to create products that helped them with their work, and to be able to provide the reassurance of genuinely effective skin care. 


So there you go. The company makes a few variations of the HealGel product, including; HealGel face, HealGel body and HealGel Intensive. All are an aqueous gel, containing the "best active ingredients to soothe, repair and protect your skin".

My primary concern is obviously my under eye area so I said I'd try Healgel Eye, which is "an advanced corrective, anti-ageing formula to condition and lift the delicate eye area". I am again just going to quote directly from their website here so you get a better idea of what it's supposed to do, otherwise we'd be here all day with me trying to translate their medical jargon:

The formula can help to diminish the appearance of dark circles, puffiness and fine lines. Refreshing and lightweight it provides a perfect base for make-up or a pick-me-up for tired eyes so that you can look well-rested even if you’re not. 
Like HealGel Intensive, HealGel Eye contains Arnica and Madecassoside which are suspended in liposomes with powerful peptides and biodynes to initiate a uniquely soothing and collagen boosting process. Sluggish micro-circulation is stimulated and irritation is soothed.  
In addition, HealGel Eye contains a duel action hyaluronic acid complex that locks moisture deeper into the skin and firms the eye contours. The effect is to soften the appearance of fine lines, even skin tone and improve the elasticity of the skin through intense hydration. Light diffusers in the gel further improves sallow areas for a brightening and smoothing effect. 
Well that all sounds super fancy and high tech but I guess the real question is, does it work? 
Personally, I definitely noticed a difference. It was a subtle difference to start with but the darkness of the bags seemed lessened and my eyes were for sure less puffy in the mornings. Overall my skin there felt a bit softer and I'd like to think I looked less like a haggard old crone (I should probably have asked himself for an opinion on this one). I don't really have fine lines or wrinkles as of yet (praise Jebus) but I like to think I'm doing a bit of preventative work here.

It provides a lovely base for applying make up (I use it both am and pm also) and feels so light on the skin- because it's a gel it sinks in really quickly and never feels sticky or like I'm weighing down what is a very delicate area of skin. Unfortunately, I have of late misplaced my bottle so my unseemly eye bags have come back with a bit of a vengeance and I'm also not sleeping very well, which doesn't help either.

I'm not saying that this is a miracle product or that you have to rush out and try it but I've tried a lot of eye creams in my time, from; Chanel, Dior, Garnier, Clinique, Benefit, Nuxe, the list goes on and I honestly think this has had the best results of all. To go back to my original point of nutrition, water and sleep being important, really they're vital and something like this should more be used as an adjuvant for them, rather than the other way around but for me, I'll always continue to use an eye cream/serum (especially after hitting the big 3-0) and this is my current go-to product (if I can ever find it again).

I honestly can't remember what site I bought this from but I remember I picked it up on sale so it might be worth checking out the likes of Look Fantastic, who often do good discounts, otherwise you're looking at about €40 at full price, which I know seems crazy but is about average when you look at other high end eye creams. It's also worth noting that you only use a tiny amount each time, I've had mine for a good 4 months now and have only made a small dent.

Have you tried anything from the HealGel brand? 
Do you use an eye cream, if so what have you found to be the best?
XX

Sunday, 10 August 2014

Weekend Book Review: Little Lies by Liane Moriarty

You might know Liane Moriarty from her previously successful novels What Alice Forgot and The Husband's Secret (reviewed HERE) and her latest, Little Lies (or Big Little Lies, depending, confusingly on what part of the world you're in) has just been released and is already getting rave reviews. Even though I enjoyed but didn't love The Husband's Secret, I do Like Moriarty's style of writing so was delighted to get the chance to read a preview copy of this via NetGalley. 
While I may have been slightly ambivalent about The Husband's Secret I actually think she's really come into her own as a writer here and this is one you're definitely going to want to read. 

both covers/titles

Set in a small Australian coastal town, focusing on the lives of three women whose children all attend the same preschool, we're told from the offset that by the end of the book someone will be dead- we just don't know who. And that's really the genius here; I spent the entire novel trying to figure out which one it would be, it literally could've been anyone so there was a constant feeling of suspense. The three women themselves are all completely different but all of their characters are so well developed that you really feel you get to know them. 
There's Jane, a single mum who appears outwardly damaged in some way and her little boy Ziggy, they've just moved to the town. Madeline is glamour personified, has a little girl with her new husband and has the whole town sussed- she has a loud mouth and is the life and soul but is harbouring a secret resentment towards her ex-husband for winning over their teenage daughter when he moves into her small queendom with his new hippy-dippy wife. 
Lastly, there's Celeste, a stunningly beautiful mum to adorable twin boys with an incredibly wealthy husband but at times comes across as being vague and not quite with it. 
They form a strange but strong friendship and to start with all is going well until little Ziggy is accused of quite violently bullying a little girl on the first day of pre-school. He swears blind it wasn't him but from there both his and Jane's names are tainted, unless she, Madeline and Celeste can get to the bottom of what's going on. 
While it all sounds a bit suburban, there's a constant undercurrent of something being very "off" with all of the characters; they all have their secrets which gradually begin to surface no matter how hard they try to present the "perfect mother" image and let's not forget that we're also trying to solve a murder in reverse here too, which I found to be a fairly intriguing plot device. There's additional post-murder commentary from witnesses scattered throughout the book too which really added to the story. The point is definitely made that the "little secrets" we tell each other are the same ones we tell ourselves, just to keep everything together. 
I have a feeling this is going to be a best seller so I'd hop on it if you like your murder mystery/thrillers a bit smarter but without the guts and gore. 
XX

Friday, 8 August 2014

NEW! The Body Shop Argan Oil Range

Oh god, this stuff is gorgeous. I'm not gonna beat around the bush here, you need to go and give the Argan Oil range a sniff when it comes out on the 21st of this month. I only got these at the start of the week and would normally give it more time of trying the product out before reviewing it but I don't need to here. I've been using these all week and when I haven't been using them I've been secretively opening and sniffing them, like a maniac.

The Body Shop Argan Oil Range

 But let's back track! My first thought on getting this through my front door was "hmm, Argan oil, that's unusual to see that not just in hair care" because really that's what Argan oil is generally used for in beauty products. So The Body Shop have decided to make use of the traditionally nourishing oil for the body as well, much to my delight. I have the Rough Scrub, Body Butter and Miracle Solid Oil for Body and Hair to try out.

The Body Shop Argan Oil Range

I love a good Body Scrub and this one contains decent sized pieces of Argan shell exfoliants in Community fair trade Argan oil from Morocco so it not only removes dead skin cells well but it feels moisturising at the same time. Often with exfoliators, my skin can be a bit red raw afterwards but not with this. Also, the smell!! My god. It's like a mixture of Shea butter, almonds and something else I can't put my finger on, which is obviously the Argan oil! This is a good'un. 200mls for €18.95.

The Body Shop Argan Oil Range

After my shower I then use the Body Butter. Now, I always have a Body Shop Body Butter on the go; at the moment I have both Moringa and Coconut on my bedside table and it's always been one of my must have products; it may take me a while to get through each 200ml pot but I always buy a new one when I'm finished and I most definitely now have a new favourite. Again, the scent is amazing. If you love the Shea butter, Almond or Coconut scents then you'll love this, it has that same nutty aroma but with a sweeter scent added to it, like a vanilla maybe? I'm not sure, as I say, I've been smelling this all week and still can't pin point it!
Regardless, it's a perfect moisturiser as expected. Even though it's thick, it sinks in easily and is completely non-greasy, non-shiny. It leaves my skin super soft and smelling incredible. This is €18.95 for 200mls.

The Body Shop Argan Oil Range

Lastly I have the Miracle Solid Oil for those extra dry areas, which for me are my elbows, shins and heels. It feels like a balm that melts on contact with the skin and is indeed that bit more intensive. It smells a bit like coconut which is unsurprising as it contains coconut oil as well as Argan and Shea butter so you know you're getting extra soothing treatment for your skin. This is €15.00 for 50g but I would imagine it would take a really long time to get through it. I haven't tried it on my hair yet but I think I might try it over the weekend as a treatment on dry hair. 

I kind of want all the rest of the range now which includes a Bubbling bath, a shower gel, a massage soap, radiant oil and solid oil for lips. I actually can't stop sniffing my own arm, it's like an illness. Also in a funny story as I mentioned on twitter the other night, himself came home and saw the body butter, opened it and was like "oh my god!! That's amazing!! Is it edible??" He was very disappointed to find out otherwise. I had quite the chuckle. Good times. 

Does this sound like your type of thing? What's your favourite of the Body butter scents?
XX

*Press sample, gratefully received. All opinions my own, as always.

Thursday, 7 August 2014

Benefit Minis: Handy Little Travel Sizes!

I picked up this Benefit set at Christmas and for some reason never blogged about it. I've been going through a weird love/hate relationship with Benefit for the last year. I find myself so drawn to their products, for two main reasons; 1) they're just so beautifully packaged and I appreciate a bit of aesthetically pleasing make-up, it's what I'm all about and 2) along with MAC, it was the first brand I bought when I first got into make up and as you'll know if you read THIS post on getting old, I'm craving all things from my youth at the moment. The hate part comes in the form of how expensive they are and that they can be a bit hit and miss, which you'll know if you read THIS post on their recent eyeliner release. 
So anyway, I bought this fella and was given some other gorgeous Benefit sets for Christmas as presents, which I also really need to review (bad blogger!) and have mostly just been taking them out and looking at how pretty they are. Please don't judge me; this is a safe place, dammit!! I am a total make-up addict, I admit that and some things are just too pretty to use. Until now! I've decided to use every single item in the set and stop being so precious. So here we go:


So in this set you get: It's Potent Eye Cream, High beam, Posie Tint, Stay Don't Stray Eye Primer, That Gal Brightening Face Primer, Porefessional primer, Watts Up highlighter, Hoola Bronzer, Hoola Lip Gloss and Bad Gal Mascara.


Ah, would you look at the dinky-ness! It's just too cute!! I actually used a whole normal sized tub of It's Potent a couple of years ago and while I liked it, I felt it was just a bit too thick for my particular under eye skin and would possibly be suited to a younger person (which makes sense as that whole skincare ranged is aimed at a younger audience). I prefer a lighter, gel texture for my eye products but this is super handy and I'll use it to pop in an overnight bag for sure.


I just said I'd do swatches of these fellas rather than show you the tubes again, which you can see above. Left to right we have Stay don't Stray primer, High Beam, Posie Tint and Watts Up. Confession time, I haven't used Stay Don't Stray (I know, terrible blogger. I've upgraded myself from bad blogger) mostly because I never use eye primers. I used to use the Urban Decay one but I don't really have oily lids and don't have much use for it. I WILL try it though, I promise. Have you tried it? Any good?
I've also had a whole bottle of High Beam before; it's a very pretty pink iridescent highlighter and I actually think having it in this tiny tube is a way better idea than their usual big nail polish style bottle; I'm way more likely to be able to get through a bottle this size because of how sparingly I use highlighter anyway and also, the cuteness.
Posie Tint is one of my favourite Benefit products; I've actually been through more than a couple of the full size bottles of these in my time so I'm delighted to have the mini to pop in my bag for touch ups. It's a very pretty pink stain that you can use on either lips or cheeks. My preference is cheeks with a light powder blush over it- it'll last you all day and that's really important for me when working 13 hour shifts, if I don't wear blush or it wears off I'll get at least two comments from people asking me if I'm unwell. Which is understandable, I look ghost-like otherwise. 
I hadn't tried Watt's Up til I got this and I've actually used it the most; it's a really flattering gold/champagne shade that gives just a nice warm glow to the top of my cheekbones. It's also really easy to apply as it comes in a stick and it blends out easily just using your fingers.


I've tried out Porefessional and I'm still not sure about it. I don't particularly worry about my "pore size" and this feels a bit..claustrophobic on my dry skin. Like, it mattifies really well so if you have oily/combination skin I'd say this would be a winner but I don't know how suitable it is for us dry skinned folk. I'm gonna stick with it though, see what happens!
Again, I've used a full sized tube of "That Gal" before and really liked it; it's a really lovely brightening face primer; there's a good bit of iridescence in there that helps the overall appearance of your skin, adding a nice glow underneath your foundation.
Hoola lip gloss is a nude toned non-sticky gloss with a light gold shimmer running through it. It's actually really pretty on; very natural but definitely adds a little sumthin' sumthin'. It also smells kind of like holidays; a mixture of cocktails and sun lotion..so that's always nice!


Hoola! One of the brand's bestsellers apparently. There's always a bit of consternation about this one in the blogging world; some love it, some hate it. I actually quite like it. I was worried it'd be too dark for me but I just use a light hand to apply it and then lash it on aplenty when I've got tan on!! 


Good sweet Jebus, the size of that brush! I'm not a huge fan of Bad Gal. I've again, used a full size before and it's grand like, but there's way better alternatives for way less of your hard earned shekels. Again though, it's very handy for travel.

As are all of these- I think that's the best thing about sets like these, you get to try some products that you might not have gotten to before and you also have loads of handy travel sizes ready to go should the mood strike you to jet off somewhere (please take me with you- I have all the best make-up travel sizes and we can share!!).

I also wanted to show you this set because Benefit had a sneak peek of their upcoming Christmas sets on their instagram account the other day with something very similar to this amongst them. Just in case you want to start planning early….in August.

Have you tried any of these?
Do you like mini sets?
And most importantly, do you too hoard your prettiest make up and take it out from time to time to look at?*

*not a crazy person, I swear.